As the number of COVID-19 cases tumbles, some unvaccinated residents of the El Paso-Las Cruces region say they just don’t see getting vaccinated as worth their effort, according to focus groups recently conducted by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.
This is a major departure from earlier focus groups conducted by PDNHF which found skepticism over how quickly vaccines were brought to market and incorrect information about mRNA technology as the leading causes for vaccine hesitancy.
“While questions about the rapidity of development and mRNA technology were voiced by some focus group participants, and multiple reasons were noted such as being in good health or alternatively having underlying conditions, the most consistent reason for not being vaccinated was, quite simply, they didn’t see why getting vaccinated was worth their while, especially as more other people get vaccinated and cases decline,” said Dr. Theodore Cooper, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso who oversaw the focus groups. “Many spoke of how busy they were yet indicated they would accept a vaccine if they had to exert little effort to get one.”
The focus group findings corroborated vaccination data compiled by El Paso County which indicate that men age 18-45 are the least vaccinated demographic group in the county.
County data also point to the following ZIP codes as those where the most people remain to be vaccinated: 79912, 79924, 79936 and 79938.
“The focus groups will help us refine messaging associated with the Reduce the Risk campaign which includes targeted social media ads and in-person interactions with trained community health workers or promotoras,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, Vice President of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. “While much of our work has focused on traditionally hard-to-reach populations, we now need to reach those who are willing to be vaccinated but not willing to exert much effort to do so.”
To that end, the Reduce the Risk campaign will soon launch activations at which vaccines are immediately available with no sign up needed. They will focus on locations frequented by men ages 18-45 and in the ZIP codes which include the largest unvaccinated populations.
Other participants in the Reduce the Risk campaign include El Paso County, the City of El Paso, the Paso del Norte Community Foundation, UTEP’s Border Biomedical Research Center, Texas A&M University’s Colonias Program, the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso and the Empowerment Congress of Doña Ana County.
The complete focus group report is available for download at ReducetheRisk915.org.